Sensory Garden Oxford Island will bring therapeutic and calming benefits

Launch of Sensory Garden at Oxford Island (Bushcraft Centre), 24th June 2024. ©Edward Byrne Photography

A new public sensory garden created at Oxford Island will provide a therapeutic and inclusive area, promoting positive physical and mental health and wellbeing.

The project was part funded by the Department for Communities through its Access and Inclusion Fund with almost £30,000 allocated to the garden. A further £3,273 of funding for the project was provided by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon (ABC) Borough Council. The garden was developed by ABC Council to provide a therapeutic and calming outdoor sanctuary and to support children and adults who have additional needs, disabilities or are living with an illness or health condition.

Commenting on the opening of the garden, which includes two wooden sculpted totems featuring fauna and flora native to the area, Communities Minister Gordon Lyons said: “This magnificent garden delivers on my Department’s commitment to promote a more inclusive society, by enabling disabled people to participate more fully in arts, cultural and active recreation activities. The garden provides a space for all to enjoy, improving the wellbeing and quality of life for those who use it.”

Deputy Lord Mayor of ABC Borough, Cllr Kyle Savage who also attended the launch said, “Part of the Council’s corporate plan is to provide opportunities which improve the quality of life and wellbeing for our communities and support and empower them.

“This wonderful sensory garden here in Oxford Island really delivers on that commitment. It is a fantastic asset which will bring many benefits to those people who come here and make use of it. I would like to thank and congratulate everyone involved and thanks also to the Department for Communities for providing this funding.”

The Sensory Garden Oxford Island was built by Brilliant Trails contractor, with volunteers from across Council departments carrying out the planting.

In the last year ABC Council secured £72,298 in total from the Access & Inclusion Fund, which has also been used to secure a modular Changing Places unit and to install communication panels at play parks across the borough.  These panels provide an expressive platform for children who struggle with verbal communication.

Over the six years of the Access & Inclusion Fund, Council has secured approximately £510,600 for 25 projects, with council contributing approximately £48,000.